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Dec. 2nd, 2012 10:33 am
kip_w: (miner)
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Twitter and Usenet and the Comics Curmudgeon seem to get all my input these days. Even other blogs are mostly getting shorted from that fine Kip W/Muffaroo stuff.

First I was all busy with the play, which went swimmingly. We had a strong Captain, a tireless and very professional Maria (who has apparently been on Broadway in some capacity), and an imposing Mother Superior with a thrilling, theater-filling voice (she has sung with the Boston Symphony), plus two rather fine sets of Trapp children, who impressed me early on by being off book before anybody else. I wondered why, if we can get such great kid actors here in Pittsford, they can't do it in Hollywood. Thankfully, the production left in the three songs that are usually cut for the movie; the two Max/Elsa numbers ("How Can Love Survive," and my favorite, "No Way to Stop It"), which are the wittiest part of the score, and "An Ordinary Couple," which strikes me as the most mature and moving. It was a long show, full of costume changes. Maria and the kids spent most of their time not on stage getting out of one set of garments and into another. Our Max had one change that was uncomfortably quick for him, so I helped him with that each night. I was already done with my part by then anyway, but stayed in costume for the curtain call. For the curtain call, I modified a bit that Eric Strong used in The Mikado at CNU for his curtain call: he scowled at the audience as the stern (but mercenary) Pooh-Bah and held a fan in front of his face. When the fan came down, he was Eric, smiling broadly. I did it with my bow; the moment of unmasking. Our players now are done. I hope you liked me. A couple of people said they did, which made me feel pretty good.

The next crunch was, and is, school. Much cramming has been required for the quizzes in 20th-century art history, because it amounts to writing three or four papers in class, on pictures that must be recognized and ID'ed. Longhand, of course, so cramping is also involved. The 20th century involves at least ten art movements per decade, so the hardest part of all of it was remembering the isms and their dates. There was some small consolation in the end dates, which meant that each of these movements is, in some way, over. Take that, you bastards! You're HISTORY. There's still the final to go. It would be nice if the teacher would post the slides some time soon so I could be studying them, and not just the written notes.

Autumn leaves have been a challenge. I put in some eight hours of raking and blowing in brief intervals between studying and the show. The stretches and exercises, which take between one and three hours daily (depending on the day of the week) seem to be doing their job. When my back went out after a three-hour leaf orgy, it was only out for a couple of minutes, and I made it to rehearsal with no further incidents. The muscles that support my sacroiliac are helping pick up some of the slack now. (Our Captain von Trapp's back went out the week before performance, so he couldn't pick up Gretel and carry her iconically up the aisle at show's end, but they made it work anyway.)

Thanksgiving went better and more smoothly than anyone could reasonably expect. Some of the best turkey I can remember in years — when I went to harvest the carcass for leftovers, the meat was so tender all I had to do was compliment it, and it jumped off the bones and into the waiting bowls. I had at least two good leftover meals of dark meat with dressing and gravy, and Sarah had a healthy snack of the dark meat. Cathy ate some of the white meat as well. Next year, I should probably put at least one of the containers of white meat into the freezer for medium-term storage.

Cathy spent much of last week in New Jersey, helping her mom, who had had a fall. By the time she got there, the initial emergency and hospital stay were over, and Delores was no longer groggy from meds. She  mostly took her places (water aerobics, hair appointment), shopped (getting Sarah's Christmas presents in line as she did so), and watched TV with her. Sarah and I had FaceTime chats with them to keep in touch. I managed to get all the leftovers out of the fridge for hazardous waste pickup before she got back, and even cleared some liquid dregs from the downstairs fridge, which is mostly used for beverages and frozen desserts.

We'll be going to NJ for Christmas. I'll be 56 in a couple of weeks. Dad's health seems to be good (no more strokes), though his hearing is as much a problem as ever. The latest is that his body chemistry causes the tiny tubes of his hearing aids to contract and constrict, making frequent replacement necessary. Kathryn (my oldest sister, with whom he lives) says that he can be hearing okay in the audiologist's office, and be back to subnormal by the time they get to the car. I expect to see them in April, when Sarah and I will drive up for her (and my) spring vacation. We'll drive to Colorado in summer. I'm starting to enjoy driving vacations again, and Sarah has strategies to put up with them (iPod, games, movies, slumber), and we seem to get on pretty well when we're on trips or when we're batchin' it without Cathy. Father-daughter time, especially when there's a hotel pool for a warm dip. We're staying at a Holiday Inn for the NJ trip, so we'll doubtless be immersing a couple of times then.

That's mostly it. It's been a pretty poor year for paid work for me, which has made it a little easier to do a show and go to school. Last year was about the best year I've had for freelance, which makes this year more of a letdown. I've finally heard from a client who engaged me for a cover job back in August, who finally sent me all the files and a short deadline, plus the prospect of three more books, for which I'd do the whole job and not just the covers. Another previous client has dangled the prospect of another book as well, so the future looks a little better than the immediate past.

Do I have time and inclination here to wrap up this huge (and largely unread) post with an inane and faux-profound closing statement? Time will tell, readers. Time will tell.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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"Sarah, why are these grapes in a bowl of water?"
"I was bobbing for them."
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kip_w: (Default)
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"This would make a good LJ post..." "I should catch up on LJ..." and like that. Sadly, the most interesting times in life are also the busiest. Some things I thought I should post about and didn't:

• Father's Day. Scrambled eggs and bacon (and a poem) from Sarah. Piano/vocal score to "Book of Mormon" and (when I find it) a new backpack!

• I went to a party for some parent volunteers (where I was the only male human) and had a swell time. As a result of it, somebody is coming over to look at our second piano, which is for sale now. Here's hoping!

• Trip to Michigan was a success; niece is married, and I got to see many relatives. Flickr photoset (40)

Gainsborough
Niece (married)

• My sister drove back to Colorado with Dad and a niece, arriving in time to be evacuated from their house because of the fire. They're in a hotel in town for now. They were allowed back in, and they replaced $250 of groceries before being told a couple of hours later that they would have to evacuate again. Lots of smoke in Fort Collins. The web cams showed it more clearly the other day. (Links to other Fort Collins cams are at left.)

• Sarah's about out of school for the year. Tomorrow's the last day of fourth grade. She's going into Band next year, playing a clarinet. They'll teach her how to play the clarinet. Sounds like she might get lessons too.

• I'm gradually getting back into the exercise routine, having achieved 3 YMCA visits a week, and doing a half hour of stretches in the morning whilst listening to Gunsmoke radio shows, which are a half hour long and entertaining.

• Sarah and I ventured out to the bridge over the creek on Knickerbocker the other evening to see fireflies. No fireflies were seen lighting up, however. As reports from Sarah and from Mark across the street both indicate fireflies have been present, more venturing will take place. Fireflies must be seen.

• Finally have a little bit of work to get busy on, so I'd probably better.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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Cathy brought me pancakes.

I was flat on my back for the second day, following a Friday when my back went out (though I could still get around, and even went to Sarah's soccer match in Webster) and a Saturday when it was a long and strenuous effort to turn onto my side in bed, let alone get out of it.

Luckily, Sarah had done most of the groundwork. We had worked up a menu together (at her instigation) to give Cathy, and she made a card with a poem. I had picked up a Whitman Sampler earlier in the week, when I was whole.

So Sarah made pancakes, and Cathy brought me mine.

I'm finding that doing some version of my stretches before I venture out of bed reduces the time it takes to be able to walk without clutching the furniture like a toddler.

I'll get up soon, and get dressed. I hope you're all having a nice day.
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kip_w: (Default)
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Ten years old as of this month, and she wishes all to know that she does not smile for the camera.

Sarah, 12 Feb '12

At other times, she will smile as the occasion requires. She'll even laugh, provided she's watching a TV show with clip art laughter.
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Edited to de-awkward phrasingly.
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Sarah has been screaming more than usual lately. She says she is "The Scream" now — the one by Edvard Munch. Seems a pity Munch never did one about a whisper.
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There was a fox in our back yard the other day. I ran for the camera and took pictures, then watched it as it scratched, looked around, sniffed here and there, and did other thrilling fox activities. Then Matty, the neighbor dog, ran up, barking. I thought for a second she might go through the invisible fence again, but it stopped her. It was enough for the fox, which ran off in a direction I couldn't be certain of. Matty then looked satisfied, turned away and kicked a couple back paws worth of dirt in its general direction. Later that day, or maybe the next, Sarah and I were driving somewhere and it ran across the road in front of us. A couple of our neighbors also saw it.

Thursday night, I helped Sarah make a scrapbook of the China trip. She chose about 90 photos from a set of 350 that I'd made, and I used InDesign to lay them out on eight pages. She did one of the pages mostly by herself with me giving instructions. I think she could learn the basics of the layout program pretty quickly. Friends who are interested in the scrapbook, be aware that the PDF is only about 2.5MB.

Now we're up in New Jersey, with Cathy's family. Yesterday Sarah and I went along as Cathy's sister Mary took her dog, Rags, for a walk on a railroad trail somewhere not too far from Budd Lake. At three miles, it's the closest thing to exercise I've done on this trip. As we approached the parking lot, a dozen or so shots were heard somewhere over a hill. Rags was not thrilled. Some folks at the parking lot were unhappy because one of their dogs had bolted from the vehicle and was now running down the road. We allowed that Sarah's theory about the dog being scared by the shots was a good one. We were going in the same direction and drove slowly behind the car that was tracking the dog and looking for a chance to get it back in the car. Some brilliant soul a couple of cars back figured we were all driving too slow and had the notion that he could fix everything by honking his horn.

Today we were out for an errand and managed to swing by White Castle. The one near here is the only one I ever get to visit any more, and I always look forward to it. This time I didn't have a regular slider but had a fish slider, a bacon slider, and a jalapeño cheese slider. So hot, so fresh, so tasty. I'm hoping we can get in one more slider run as we depart for home in the morning. If all they serve in the a.m. is breakfast items, well, that wouldn't be so bad either. (And yes, I am aware that some people may not like White Castle. I am unperturbed by this.)
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kip_w: (1971)
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It was kind of pleasant, actually, to be watching TV here and hear the sound of the grand piano overhead as Sarah practiced. She seems determined to learn some piano, so I'm teaching her out of the beginner books that were in the bench of the upright we bought along with the house. (It's for sale, by the way, as Cathy is against the idea of me hoarding pianos.) Thanks to her music classes at school, she already knows some of the basics of music, so beginning piano seems to be a fairly painless step sideways.

Cathy has been borrowing my phone whenever she went on a trip, since hers would no longer take a charge. I messed around with it. Bought a charger at the $5 store, but the battery won't work. More recently I had a thought: find one of our old phones and put the SIM card in it. Sarah claimed to have seen one of our Razrs around, and I searched for it with her in vain. Yesterday I found a charger for it, which removed the possibility of finding it and still not being able to use it, so we searched again, and I eventually found it. As Sarah had recalled, it was in a cloth bag. I united it with the charger, and it seemed to be willing to charge up. I put the card in, and it asked me to put the card in. I took it out and put it in again, and by golly, the thing works. Exclamation point! Great satisfaction there.

This morning I got my birthday presents. Cathy got me _The Best American Comics 2011_, so I can find out what's going on in comics. Sarah got me _Ghost of the Hardy Boys_ by Leslie McFarlane, the original Franklin W. Dixon. She was with me when I found the book at a local shop for more than I could spend, and tracked down one online for less.

Cathy says I've been getting birthday wishes on FaceBook. I should have asked her who from, since I don't see FB. I do see LJ, though, and thanks to LSanderson and Supergee for their kind wishes.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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Merry Christmas

(Larger size available — and recommended — at the flickr page)
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reve vue

Nov. 4th, 2011 10:21 am
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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Last night I dreamed that I was watching TV with Sarah in the room, and the cartoon I had on said that word that starts off like "sugar" but ends differently. And one second later, Sarah was saying it over and over.

Big deal, eh? Only for some reason, I kept remembering it. I don't know if I woke up over and over, and each time said "I need to remember this," or if I just dreamed I did, but my half-awake self thought it would be real socko for an LJ post. I held onto it through three subsequent dreams.

So here it is. I don't want to let my unconscious self down. That weirdo's capable of anything.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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This year, Sarah designed the pumpkin and (with my supervision) did most of the carving and seed removal. Here we are after the triumphant conclusion.
pumpkin
She also got four strikes in two games when we went bowling.
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recentude

Sep. 10th, 2011 11:40 am
kip_w: (Default)
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Ever have one of those times where so much happened, you're reluctant to even try to update your LJ because you'll be writing all day?
Yeah, well.

First we went to China. Not that it was the first thing going on, but it's the first thing that actually got finished. Other things were already started, like the incredible hovering grand piano, which can be seen a foot or two over my head at all times. Dad's giving me his piano, and all I have to do is make it be here instead of Escanaba. So there was that to research. There were places that seemed to advertise prices below a thousand dollar, which is good because I needed an alternative that could compare with the price of driving it here myself, or else I'd end up trying to drive a U-Haul trailer with an expensive piano in it 725 miles. Before that could resolve itself, though, it was time to go to China.

I've started writing a China report. Haven't finished, though. About the time we got back from there, I had other stuff to think about. Like the piano! And some jobs that had obligingly receded to the background while the China trip was on. I finished those and did more research on the piano, which I was hoping might be moveable for about 1200 dollars. Then Dad had a stroke.

I'd been talking a lot with Sarah about seeing Dad and other folks in Michigan. Sarah had seen her grandpa on two occasions. In her life. I wanted to increase this number to something more reasonable. I finally decided that if I just drove out there with her, we could afford to do it. It helped that we stayed at my sister's cabin instead of a motel. We had a satisfying time, staying about a week. I went on a gig with Kathryn (my sister) and sat in on a couple of numbers. Drove all over the Upper Peninsula, adding hundreds of miles to the odometer. Visited a lovely house (called a "camp" by the owner) on the shore of Lake Superior. Went to the UP state fair. Spent lots of time with Dad, whose recovery is remarkable. His only problem now is his rooted belief that he will get in his car and drive to Texas for a few months, something he has been able to do up to now, but which this latest stroke makes problematic.

Anyway, Sarah got to see Grandpa, and her cousins Brian and Caitlin, and her Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Steve, and importantly, she was a good traveler. She hasn't yet gotten to where she watches much scenery. Instead, she puts on earphones and falls asleep to a DVD or some songs. We made it there and back, and she didn't complain much about being bored. We will make the trip more often, so that she will see some of the members of my side of the family more often than once every four years or so. She asked for the road atlas a few times, and not only was able to find where we were on the map, but she figured out approximate distances to our next milestones. I was impressed!

So we made it home, pretty much okay. Except for the cooling system, which was creamed by a flying tire tread somewhere less than an hour from home. That cost a cool grand to fix. Did I mention the accordion? My sister Martha got it for me some years ago, and was able to transport it to Michigan, and I was able to drive home with it. It's a pearlescent white Soprani Coletta, made in Italy, possibly around 1938. I practice on it. I will be the life of the party, just wait.

Sarah has started fourth grade now. Last night we went to a picnic at her teacher's house. Her teacher has neighbors on three sides who are in her class this year. What are the odds? A great time was had in a pretty good back yard. Sarah will try out today for the travel team (soccer). If she gets it, I'll be chauffeuring her around more than ever. They had auditions for the Pittsford Musical "Oliver" this week, so I went and gave it my best. The call came today that I was offered a chorus part, which I did not want. I tried out for them two years ago and accepted a chorus part. I will do a chorus part one time so that a director can see what I do. If they're going to offer me one every time, then I'm doing something wrong and need to try elsewhere. I hated to turn it down, as this seems like burning a bridge, but I am not a chorus member by inclination or ability.

So there it is. I wrote something; hooray. On to whatever I have to do next.
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We were in China for about two and a half weeks. You might have noticed I wasn't around! Since getting back, I wasn't around because of some major jobs I had to finish. One is now done and the other was done enough that I have taken a day off to just gibber a lot and get my photos organized.

I finished organizing a photoset taken from the almost 5,000 snaps on the trip — which include duplicates of the majority of shots, because I can't go back for retakes. I would take two or three (sometimes four) of a subject, shifting a little to the right in between, so that I'd get at least one decent shot out of it, and if I got two, I'd have a stereo pair. I also took a lot of pictures from moving buses, and if I find the time to get rid of all the ones like that that didn't come out, my hard drive will sigh happily and stand a little straighter.

Anyway, the first photoset was about 350 pictures. Nobody will look at that. So I went through and pulled the cream from that set and made a subset of 120 pictures. One in a hundred will look at that, and I don't feel like cutting down another one, so there we are. For the other 99, here's a sampling:

0862 Photo op
Here we are, climbing the Great Wall in 97° heat. The guard stations are cooler inside, especially if there's a breeze, but my party never wanted to stop inside, except when they met the donkey and wanted to pet it.

more behind el jumpo )

More at China, July 2011 and not quite so much more at China 2011 in Brief!
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paperwork

Jun. 9th, 2011 11:08 pm
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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From November 4, 2002, a dispassionate look at our future daughter shows some of the things we didn't get to see ourselves. Following her birth name, date of birth, date of intake (to the Feixi Institute at two days of age), weight (6.6 kg), height (66.9 cm), sitting height (38 cm), number of teeth (4), and other metrics, we skip over her routine schedule — except to note with approval that she is fed many times each day and goes to the bathroom — and her diet, which is probably formula, but I can't read anything but the amounts.

SLEEP:
"Moderate sleep" is checked, and no note is made of the fact that she sucks her thumb (and a corner of a sleeve or blanket) at night.

PHYSICAL MOTOR SKILLS: Items that are checked off:
Standing for a moment being supported in the armpits.
Gazing at rattling rattle-drum.
Sitting up with his/her wrists being slightly pulled.
Seizing toys nearby.
Turning over by him/herself when laying face up.
Sitting without help
Walking being led by his/her hand.
Crawling.

Not checked: Tearing paper; Taking a toy building block in one hand, then taking another one by using the other hand; Standing with his two hands holding on to something; Holding a pill with his/her thumb and index finger; Using thumbs and index fingers freely; Standing for a moment by him/herself; Holding a pen with full hand and scribbling.

ADAPTABILITY TO THE ENVIRONMENT:
Finding out the source of a sound.
Reaching toy afar.
Ringing a bell consciously.

Not checked: Holding a piece of building block in hand while gazing at another piece; Looking for the dropped toys; Changing building block from one hand to another hand; Taking building blocks out of a cup; Using two pieces of building blocks to knock at each other; Putting building blocks into a cup; Putting cap on a bottle.

SPEECH AND SOCIALITY:
Recognizing an acquaintance
Turning head being called
Responding to the facial expression of adults

Not checked: Shouting in a loud voice; Making voice at someone or something; Showing excitement at food; Feeding him/herself biscuits; Imitating sound or voice; Imitating speaking; Showing a sign of refusal; Responding to other's asking for his/her belongings; Being cooperative when being put on clothes; Pointing at eyes, ears, nose, mouth and hands with his/her finger if so asked (two of them will do); Taking off socks.

By the time we got her, she was interested in food. She ate biscuits. Whenever we took her out, she would get the socks off of her feet, so that the Chinese grandmas would come over and put them back on and adjust her blankets and look at us as if we were not good parents.

PERSONALITIES:
Timid
Quiet
Fond of listening to music
Fond of playing with toys
Fond of singing
Talkative
Having a ready smile
Getting along with others well
Fond of quietness
Quick in reaction
Fairly introverted
Obstinate sometimes
Most close to caretaker

(I am unable to read the written answers to "Most favorite activity" and "Most favorite toy." I may take this over and ask Ning about it.)

Not checked: Shy; Active; Restless; Fond of imitating; Fond of reading picture books; Fond of playing games; Energetic; Fairly extroverted; Impatient sometimes; Most close to another baby with whom he/she shares a crib, or others.

So there it is. A loose portrait of our kid, four months before we finally met her. Interesting to me, anyway.
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P3240141 meet sw



On March 24, 2003, in China's Anhui Province, Cathy and I stood in a conference room at the Hefei Holiday Inn. Late in the morning, somebody handed us a thirteen-month-old girl named Xi Huan, who we renamed Sarah.

In honor of the occasion, here are some reprints from my Live Journal from 2006.


@ 2006-02-07 18:04:00
questions
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I waited at the door with the camera tonight, to get a picture of the last time my three-year-old daughter came in after school. Tomorrow she'll be a big four year old. I took a couple of shots. Sarah demanded a tuna sandwich. I managed to get a word in, to tell Cathy I'd finally heard back from the insurance people, and we weren't covered for vandalism. "Angie's grandpa died," announced Sarah.

I expressed sympathy. She asked why he died. "Probably because he was old," I said carefully. We proceeded into the den.

She asked me what other reasons people die. "Well," I ventured, "sometimes if they're in a really bad accident, or if they get really, really sick." I didn't want her to think you die from just any sickness. "I hope you don't die," she said. "Give me a tuna fish sandwich!"

more incontinent nostalgia on the other side )



ps: There's a certain amount of morbidity in the selections. It reflects that particular time in our life when she was figuring that stuff out. This can also be found at The New Pals Club Web-Log.

some days

Feb. 19th, 2011 12:52 pm
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Thursday.

Brought Sarah in early for principal's photo op with some kids. Exercised at the Y, then went in to finish up the animation (having spent eight hours or so already, I hoped four more would finish it). Due to some event, the only parking space was next to a bozo who was about a foot over the line. I had to pull up onto the snow and ice by the curb to leave some room. I had a bad feeling about it, so I took photos. Four and a half hours later, I found new dings on my car, on the side the bozo was on. Bozo had moved the clown car, reparking it to be only three inches over the line. Very clever. I took new photos and hurried home to be there for Sarah. Animation finished: 45 seconds total.

Friday.

It had unsnowed in the night. A lot. There was green stuff all over the yard. Temperatures of around 50, combined with morning drizzle and persistent gusts of wind from the west were taking snow off like a giant hair dryer. I heard my trash barrel come rolling up the driveway. Our neighbor across the street was collecting barrels and taking them to their owners. I thanked her, then went a few doors down and got the recycling container as well.

Spoke to nice campus officers. Brought photos on a CD. The officer had to leave suddenly to help someone having anaphylactic shock, so I made my way back to the office and filled out the form. Took a walk just as temperature started to cool down, staying in what sun remained as much as I could.

Saturday.

Unsnow went away. Everything's white again, including the air, where 50 mph gusts keep snow moving around. We made two-car cavalcade through slippery streets to take the Element in for service. I missed a turnoff, but when I got to the dealer, no Cathy. They told me she'd called, and the Element was in a ditch. I talked to her. She was okay, as was the car. She was waiting for a tow truck. Sarah and I headed home.

Called campus police again in response to a phone message, and while I had him there, ascertained that the victim from yesterday's anaphylactic incident was okay. Played some levels of Mario on Sarah's DS. Worked on postcard for library. Will soon get back to worklike activities. And DS.
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kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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My calendar is still showing September 10, but when I went out and saw flags at half mast outside a fire station, it didn't take me long to realize why. Nothing unique about my morning, or going out to look for a CD I never found.

As I left my parking space near the library, somebody was at my passenger window, asking me if I knew where Strong Hospital was. I didn't, but I had a map that would do it, and told him to open the door. And so it began. First he was needing a ride to the hospital to be with his daughter, but then he was giving me way too much life story and corroborative detail, and something about a taxi and a police officer (last name Prince) who would back up everything, and he had to get a third form of ID for the hospital, but he'd have to wait 45 minutes for that, and if I couldn't wait, well, just a couple of dollars and Officer Prince would verify everything. Okay, I said, let's talk to him. He repeated elements of his earlier story, including the cab driver who had clipped him, but he could get the money back if he could collect a magic jewel... I mean, a work ID, and get to the castle before the ogre... I mean, get to the hospital really soon, or he would lose his daughter. The princess. Caseworkers. Single parentage. Three-time loser.

I said I'd drive him to the workplace, a few blocks away. On the way there, he offered more details and expounded on my kindness. We got there, and there wasn't anybody there. I declined to lend him money. Two other times, I'd been suckered this way. They both started with someone getting me to stop, and led to ever-increasing tales of woe and hard luck, and protestations of gratitude and the insistence that I take a piece of paper with a name and number on it so I could let them repay me. I declined to furnish pen and paper as well. I said I could take him to the hospital or leave him there, and those were the choices. He stood in the parking lot and said he would lose his daughter. He looked as sad as he could muster in the couple of seconds it took me to leave.

I drove homeward, glad to be shed of him, and worried to the extent (2%) that his story might have been true. Too much detail, and every time I gave him a chance to verify some of it, nothing there.

Later on, we went to Pittsford Celebrates, a small municipal midway between the library and the Erie Canal (in the library parking lot), where Sarah and Zach (from the house behind ours) went on rides (all free) and bickered like siblings. After they took turns going up the rock wall, I went up too. I'd never done it before, and I made it pretty quickly up to the top, to my surprise. Home for a while, and then we went back and watched the fireworks, delayed a bit by home-town tributes to the events of nine years ago, mostly on the other side of the state. Sarah wanted to be held, so I hoisted her up until her head was even with mine, and she gave me a kiss. After fireworks, which we almost walked out on because Sarah kept arguing with Zach, we dropped our guest off at his house and I read to Sarah while she fell asleep. I hoped I was right about that guy. I wouldn't want someone to lose custody of his kid just because he looked and sounded exactly like two scammers who got about $5 off of me a few years ago.
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trippin'

Aug. 23rd, 2010 01:15 pm
kip_w: (sarah tongue)
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So. On some Friday of last month, we got everything (plus some) into the Element and rolled on down the driveway toward vacation. We had lunch in a small town off the highway (on a route we were taking for the first time, designed to avoid the endless construction on our old route) in what was probably the only sit-down restaurant in town. A door or two away they were renovating the long-closed town movie theater, gearing up to show non-first-run movies. By suppertime we were at the home of Cathy's mom, sister, and niece, where we stayed for three days.

I went out and walked around the neighborhood each morning, aided by small maps I'd made for my iPod (thanks, Google Maps!) so I wouldn't get lost. The weather was pretty warm. I carried my small water bottle and a fan, just in case. I took pictures here and there, including a house where a bird and a squirrel were posed so picturesquely on the faux well that I first thought they were decorative elements. After the first morning, I carried my camera along.

Cathy's brother Sean was there with his daughters. Sean's birthday is close enough to Cathy's that a joint party was held for both, with cake and candles. Since it was the big 50 for Sean, someone had the idea of using a Roman numeral (though not a Roman candle) for the number. Sean declared that it wasn't a number, but an L for Loser. I sympathized quietly. Sean's daughter Taylor is now 15 or 16 and has a web page called GiveMeFashionNow that seems to be getting pretty respectable amounts of traffic.

We pressed on to Philadelphia, with vaguely educational intent. We took Sarah to the Franklin Institute, which was (per Cathy's careful planning) in walking distance from our hotel. They have a bicycle on a wire two floors above the main hall, and I paid three or four dollars to ride on it. You can't turn it around, so you are pedaling in reverse half the time. I should have looked down more, and gotten my money's worth. Next we took the purple trolley-style bus to the Please Touch museum, catching a ride as it was heading away from it and going through town to the far end of the route, then coming back. The museum is in a building built for a world's fair, and there's a rather large diorama of the whole fair in the basement that's fun to look at. There were lots of things to try there, and it didn't seem like any of it was out of order, even. Sarah enjoyed herself and kept busy. We ate well there, at Indian and Chinese restaurants, as well as the Reading Market.

Then it was off to DC, with Cathy still driving (I don't remember driving at all on the trip) and me riding shotgun with the camera, playing the alphabet game with signs as we went while Sarah played Nintendo or watched DVDs in the back. We got in on Thursday, and on Friday I got to start seeing people. First it was two fellow posters from the Comics Curmudgeon, who I met for the first time over lunch at the Museum of the American Indian (which I recommend — the food court, anyway). That evening, we drove down to Baltimore and had supper with Steve and Elaine Stiles. Steve spoke of his eventual retirement, and we talked up our part of New York as a great place to move to. We'll see if he buys it.

On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] geckoman journeyed up from Hampton, VA, to accompany us through the National Zoo, where we got to gawk at pandas. They mostly eat, but at least they're good to watch while they do it. They're living cartoon characters, needing only appropriate background music to complete the picture. The zoo also has orangutan tramways: towers connected by cables that let the orangs travel between two or three locations. (Tip: Don't stand underneath!) We spent time in the small mammal and reptile houses, with Geck's observations making everything twice as entertaining. Then we all hit the pool again. The water was a good temperature, easy to get used to. Seemed to be salt water, too. I forgot my goggles somewhere there, but they could stand replacing anyway.

Sunday was the day we drove back. I went through the alphabet backwards and forwards a bunch of times, and then we were home again. The cat still recognized us. We unpacked and decompressed.

Then, the next weekend, we were off again.

Culture Camp is an annual event of the FCC (Families of Chinese Children) here, where everybody drives down to Lake Keuka and stays on the campus of Keuka College for workshops, crafts, meals, s'mores, and lots of running around and shouting. This year, Sarah wanted her friend Lulu to come with us, so we were a foursome. Sarah and Lulu had a room of their own, connected to ours by the bathroom.

I tried the piano in our residence hall, and found that the upper notes were in a different key from the lower ones. The piano in the student center, however, was basically okay with only a few notes in a different dimension. I had come prepared for this, and got out my tuning hammer and electronic tuner and touched up the lower octaves. The bottom G on the bass clef was missing both strings — not much I could do about that. Each time I played a piece, I looked at the music and asked msyelf if that G was crucial. Sometimes it was, and I played another piece instead.

I had also come prepared for the foosball tables, which had no foosballs. When Sarah and I went to play mini golf in NJ, I noticed that the shop the course was in sold the balls, and I bought some. As a result, Sarah and Lulu were able to play when nobody else could (except if they played with Sarah and Lulu). They were happy to stop playing with a rolled up wad of paper.

Saturday night (the thing went from Friday to Sunday lunch), we were treated to a super fireworks display. Literally, we were treated. It had nothing to do with the camp. We were just in the right place at the right time. We stayed around until lunch on Sunday and headed home. The drive wasn't terribly long, even with Sarah in the car.
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While looking for something else, I found a bound bundle of photocopies my grandfather had sent me for Christmas in 1987. It was a chapter from Pioneer Days in the Southwest, printed in 1909, and this chapter was written by Grand-dad's grandfather, George B. Ely, who was born in 1840.

I thought of scanning it, then had a thought, which led to my finding this.

It's the whole book, and a cleaner copy than my photocopied one. I sent it out to a number of relatives, most of whom are also great-great-grandchildren of George Ely.

Hm. I have more things to do today, but suspect I won't get to them. Somewhat tuckered.

edited to take big ol' URL out of the middle of the floor
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Now that I'm sitting down, I'll magically forget everything. Let's find out.

• I put up a bookshelf in Sarah's room, and she's been working to fill it up and put the room in order. She also is getting rid of some of her kiddie books and board books. So far I haven't even found any I want to pull out and rescue. She told me we could have the closet outside my office back. I said she could still use it, and she said no, Cathy and I could put boxes in it again. On Sunday night, she went up to sleep in her bunk. Soon she was back down here, tearfully telling me she couldn't sleep without a grownup around. I reluctantly went up to sit by. After a while, it just wasn't working out. In retrospect, maybe the first full night of Daylight Savings was a bad time to make the switch. Anyway, I said she could go back to her closet and she said she'd go to sleep on our bed as usual and we could carry her to her beloved closet when she was asleep.

• The A just below middle C was kind of irksome, so after ignoring it for a couple of weeks, I cleared off the piano and opened it up. I picked up the four mutes and put them on top. Only there were just three of them. After searching, I found it down inside the works, resting below a hammer. After some wrestling, I got it out and tuned the A. While it was open, I checked another couple of notes and found that the F where the mute was was now pretty well messed up. A little thin wire that should be straight was twisted across the next key, and trying to play it was correspondingly snafu'd. So I'm back on the auxiliary piano until we can get the acoustic fixed.

• Lots of school stuff. The Art Ambassador project (Faith Ringgold) went swimmingly and is finally over. On the other hand, I forgot completely that I was supposed to be at Sarah's class yesterday for Science Action, so I get a Zero on that one.

• Lots of work stuff. Wrapping up two books with one more (the French version of one of the completed books) on the horizon.

• Enjoying the new car. I'm an SUV drivin' man now, with our used 2006 Honda Element. I'm getting used to automatic shift and electric windows. Sarah's enjoying the legroom. Whenever Cathy takes her anywhere, they use the Element. More good news: the mp3 disks I made when my iPod was in the shop a while back work in the car's CD player.

• Weather's getting better. Sarah believes we've seen the last of snow; I'm not so sure. I can clearly see how much the snowplow man has ruined the lower end of the lawn. When I take walks around the neighborhood, no matter where I go, I see tire tracks through yards. Whoever went through here on the Saturday after Christmas covered a hell of a lot of ground. They crossed our yard, and the tracks are probably still visible under some circumstances, but it's much worse next door, where they turned at high speed before going -behind- the next house. I don't know who did it, but I know it was a jerk.

• Sarah got a good report card, so we went out last night for ice cream.

• It's ant season. For two or three weeks, ants have been a fact of life. See an ant, kill an ant. After a while, sweep up dead ants and discard. I looked up from piano playing (still managing, with maybe one exception, to play every day) to see Sarah and Lulu smashing Cheez-its in the driveway. The next morning when we were waiting for the bus, I mentioned the Cheez-its. "Lulu and I did that," Sarah explained. "For the ants. When they see the Cheez-its, they'll eat them and not be interested in going inside."

• As mentioned in passing, I'm taking walks through the neighborhood. It was cold enough a time or three that I used the treadmill instead, but any time I can go outside, I do that instead. I usually pick up the phone and talk to one of my sisters or Dad. If they're not available, I can't seem to think of anyone else to call, so then I just walk and maybe listen to the iPod.

• Phone guy came over and quickly found the cable that was making a constant buzz that drowned out all voices on the landline. Mice had gnawed through the insulation. Thanks, phone guy!
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